How long does it take to set up an almost completely staffed pastoral care crisis line? Apparently 48 hours.
On September 20, 2023, one of the largest anti-2SLGBTQ+ movements in North America in the last couple of decades was held in major cities across Canada. The march concentrated specifically on removing sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) education from school curriculums, as well as endorsing provincial bylaws currently being discussed regarding parental permission for students to use preferred names and pronouns at school.
Many groups attempted to rally people together for counter protests across the province.
A Manitoba-based Instagram meme account called @mbpolidragrace, which compares provincial politics with RuPaul’s Drag Race visuals, decided to go another route. According to the poster they put up on social media, “rather than giving protestors the attention and confrontation they want (and putting trans and queer youth at risk), we’ll be coming together in our own show of solidarity starting at the Manitoba Legislative Building.”
While there is no confirmation of numbers, an estimate of at least three thousand people attended the Rally for Trans Youth on September 24, 2023, both from the queer community and our allies. There were flags everywhere and as my partner Cass Smith said, “I was surrounded by rainbows.” It was absolutely incredible to witness the support coming in droves onto the legislative grounds through all the pictures being posted on social media. Then having thousands of people march from there to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, in the rain.
More on Broadview:
- Meet Theo Robinson, one of Canada’s first openly transgender Anglican priests
- These United Church members showed up to say no to anti-LGBTQ2S+ protests
- ‘God loves queer people’: Canadian ministers show LGBTQ2S+ support in video
The question is, “now what?” The few days between the protest on September 20 and the rally on September 24 were overwhelmingly emotional and difficult.
Dr Jane Barter, a university professor, Anglican priest, and social activist, said she “[thought] about all of the terrible religious figures who were being represented at the [September 20 protest] and wanted to provide an alternative.” Barter knew there would be people out there looking for safe spaces and safe people to talk about the events happening around them. On September 21, she contacted myself and Rev. Andrew Rampton and together we decided that one way the church could help would be to create a pastoral care crisis line.
Within the following 24 hours, funding was acquired from the Diocese of Rupert’s Land to set up a crisis phone number and website from September 24 to October 7. A coordinator would answer the call and refer the person to an on-call member of clergy. A request was put out to priests, deacons and pastors for people interested in taking 4-hour shifts over the two weeks to speak to anyone who calls for support. Messages came flooding in from Anglican, Lutheran, Mennonite, and United Church clergy members who were wanting to desperately help the 2SLGBTQ+ community in some way.
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It can’t be predicted how many people will call and make use of the pastoral care crisis line. Even if that number is zero, it is important for clergy to be proactive in showing their support for the trans and queer communities without being overly loud about it. Per Cass Smith, coordinator of the crisis line, “it’s a very good, but also quiet thing to be an anchor when needed. That is true allyship.”
Rev. Theo Robinson is an Anglican priest in Winnipeg.
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